Buy once upon a time in mexico DVD

I began my career writing films for cable and video which require scripts with casts limited to around 15 speaking roles for budgetary reasons. Every speaking role costs a producer a *minimum* of around $1,500 a day (once you've paid SAG scale, meals, costumes, insurance, health & pension, and all of those other hidden costs of employment) - and as much as $35 *million* if they're stars! Even the small roles add up. And fewer characters in your story means more time spent on developing each of the characters you have. More time for the audience to get to know the character, and less confusion between them ("Is that Karl or Sam? Her husband or that gardener?").

I read a friend's script that had over thirty characters in a 100 page script... You do the math! Each character gets about 3 pages! Hardly enough time to get to know and care about them. Limiting your cast actually improves the script's quality. Even the past few years when I've been writing big budget scripts, I try to limit my cast so that I can spend more time developing each character and more time really digging in to character issues. I always ask myself: What is the purpose of this character? Is he/she/it necessary?

I couldn't wait to see ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO when it came out. I'm a fan of Robert Rodriguez - saw EL MARIACHI *twice* in it's limited theatrical run. The first time was all about the legend of the $7k budget raised by being a human guinea pig for medical experiments. The film was so funny and action packed and exciting and cool that I just had to see it again. You know, there's no ticket discount for movies made for $7k - they cost just as much to see as a Hollywood film that cost $100 million. But this little film was more entertaining that most big Hollywood blockbusters. When the "sequel" DESPERADO came out, I was probably first in line. And it was even better than EL MARIACHI. Not just because of Salma Hayak and Antonio Banderas and Danny Trejo, but it had a million really cool scenes and just as much heart as the first film. That bar shoot out that plays out like a big stunt-filled dance number and ends up with Antonio and the bad guy searching the floor of a gun that still has bullets in it... and gun after gun is empty. It's exciting, suspenseful... and funny all at the same time.

So when Robert Rodriguez made the third film in the series, and Script Magazine asked if I would be interested in interviewing him, I jumped at the chance. It was a great interview (hey, he owns a copy of my book - cool) and he told me about all of these cool scenes - like the shoot out in the church where they have to be quiet, and The Blind Gunslinger and... well, I just couldn't wait to see the film!

But ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO would end up a huge let down, a film with enough characters and plots for a dozen films... but not enough *character* and enough *plot* for one film. It's all over the place - which makes it nowhere. A confusing and uninvolving story - no clear POV, no emotional stakes (just revenge - no dilemma involved), and is a rehash of EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO (two better films). Even the shoot outs are boring compared to DESPERADO - the cool ideas (blind gunman with a seeing eye boy) were never really used. The film is all surface - it never digs into characters or story... because there just isn't enough time. The film is too ambitious.


Buy The desperado DVD

The 102 minute ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO is the story of...

CIA Agent Sands (Johnny Depp) - Our lead character. CIA Agent who believes Mexico is under his control. Sands plays a different "character" for everyone he meets, but he *always* orders the same dish - puerco pibil - in every restaurant. When he tastes the *perfect* version of that dish, he kills the cook. Sands has an extra arm he uses as a decoy, and some other weird tricks. Sands pays Bellini $10k to find an assassin to kill General Marquez *after* Marquez has assassinated the President of Mexico. Sands also has a plan to bring down the Barillo Drug Cartel, and needs a man to be bait for the cartel, and a "stalking horse" cop or authority figure to do the actual dirty work of taking down the cartel. Sands is a puppet master, and his strings lead to many people and plots and places.

Bellini (Cheech Marin) - First character we see in the film. A one-eyed informant who will sell any information to anyone. He takes Sands $10k and has the perfect assassin to take out Marquez, a guy only known as El Mariachi, or "L" for short. "L" is the baddest gunman who ever lived, but the Barillo Drug Cartel has a price on his head for killing a bunch of their guys. Bellini has all kinds of secrets for sale, and tries to sell material to Sands, the FBI, the Barillo Cartel, and anyone else with money. He has a secret place to hide information - in his empty eye socket behind his eye patch. Bellini ends up out clevering himself and making deals with all sides that end up getting him killed.

Cucuy (Danny Trejo) - Muscle for hire who puts together a team to go to the Guitar Village and capture "L". He's never treated with respect, and hates it. Sands threatens him, and every time he hires on for some new muscle gig by one of the characters, they treat him poorly. Cucuy and his crew to the Guitar Village and get into a massive gunfight with "L"...

"L", El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) - Our lead character. Wait, I thought *Sands* was our lead character? Retired gunslinger and badass, living a peaceful existence in the Guitar Village where he tests guitars. Like all action heroes, he's given up his violent past and never wants to use a gun again. This is the third film in the series, so we know how many people he's shot - hundreds! That also makes it confusing that Sands seems to be our lead character for much of the movie, because this guy was the lead in the first two films. There's only one person who could get "L" to pick up a gun again - General Marquez, who killed "L"s pregnant wife years ago. Her death is the reason why he retired years ago. Cucuy takes "L" to Agent Sands who offers him a chance to kill General Marquez *after* he kills the President, and Sands guarantees that the new President will pardon "L" for all crimes so that he can lead a normal life. Oh, and just to tie all of this together in some weird way, "L" is on the top of the Barillo Drug Cartel's hit list, so he is also connected to Sands' other plan, too.

Buy The don't look now DVD

Carolina (Salma Hayak) - "L"s pregnant dead wife - a carryover character from the second film where she worked in a bookstore and was the female lead. So we're pretty sure she's the female lead here - which is confusing because we're getting all of these lead characters! Too many Chiefs and, well, too many Indians, too. After hooking up with "L", Carolina became a badass killing machine who helped him take down drug dealers. After killing a whole bunch of Barillo's guys, they get married and it's true love and then they are attacked on their wedding night and have a whole damned movie's worth of story in a flashback that ends with General Marquez killing her. Wait! I thought she was the female lead? All of this happened *before the movie even starts* which only adds to the confusion. She dies in a flashback!

FBI Agent Jorge (Ruben Blades) - Our lead character... what? Well, he's just as much the lead character as Sands or "L"! How confusing! A retired FBI Agent who was always trying to bring down the Barillo Drug Cartel, but could never get the proof. Now he's living in Mexico and following Barillo and his guys everywhere, trying to get the evidence that will bring down the Cartel. Years ago, Barillo killed Jorge's partner, and part of this whole thing is revenge. Jorge has his old FBI ID and pretends to still be an agent. When Sands offers to help him bring down Barillo, he kicks his own revenge plan into high gear.

Billy Chambers (Mickey Rourke) - American drug dealer guy who hangs with Barillo. Billy has a pet chihuahua that is his only real friend... but Barillo *hates* dogs, so Billy is always hiding the dog up his coat sleeve or somewhere else on his person, and there's always the fear that Barillo will spot the dog and kill it. Barillo is blackmailed by Agent Jorge to collect evidence and information on Barillo - so it's more than just his dog that he's worried about.

Barillo (Willem Dafoe) - Our lead character... WTF? But there's kind of a SCARFACE story in here about Barillo, who has risen to the top of the drug cartel and is now a folk hero. He has programs to feed the poor, wants to keep the country stable so that his workers and their families will do their best work. He is a renaissance man... but has two problems: "L" who has killed all of his good Lieutenants, leaving him with a bunch of dopes... and the American FBI which seems to be closing in on him. Barillo is hiring a double for a face swap kind of thing so that the double can get killed or arrested and Barillo will be able to walk away a free man. Oh, and I'd have to watch the film a couple more times, but I think part of Sands' plan is to have Barillo's men kill "L" after he has killed Marquez and after Marquez has killed the President. This film has so many characters and plots you need to constantly be taking notes or you'll get lost. Even after seeing it a bunch of times, there are some plot threads I just didn't have time to jot down!

Buy The don't look now DVD

FBI Agent Ajendrez (Eva Mendes) - Our lead character. What? Another one! She's a rookie on the FBI's team that is going to take down Barillo. Even though she's tough and hot and knows her way around guns (take that any way you want) the FBI isn't taking her seriously, nor are her macho male fellow agents. She's like Demi Moore in that female Navy S.E.A.L. movie. She keeps pushing and is eventually put on the Barillo team- on the front lines! This is great for her! She can prove she's tough. Hey, but there's another side to Ajendrez... she is Agent Sand's girlfriend! They have hot moneky-love-sex! And he gives her information that he hopes she will take back to the FBI - that Barillo is *funding* Gerneral Marquez plans to assassinate the President! Barillo is paying Marquez $20 million to carry out the assassination and coup! And Sands' plan is to let Marquez kill the President and have "L" kill Marquez and have Barillo kill "L" and then grab the $20 million for himself... and Ajendrez can come along with him and help spend it if she likes. Maybe she will, but what Sands *doesn't know* is that FBI Agent Ajendrez is not just any rookie FBI agent, she's Barillo's deep cover plant within the agency who is feeding him information on what the FBI is up to and helping him avoid capture. Oh, and she's also Barillo's *daughter*! Wow, imagine having to keep all of those lies straight!

General Marquez (Gerardo Vigil) - Has this plan for a military coup. He is going to kill the President and take over the country with his army of loyal soldiers. Sure, he's being paid $20 million by Barillo, but Marquez would have done it for free. He's one of those power mad military guys. Oh, and he also wants to kill "L" because his pregnant wife Carolina actually shot him before he killed her. This guy is just a power mad violent dude with his own army, every movie needs at least one, and rom-coms need a couple.

The Mexican President (Pedro Armendariz) - Seems like a nice guy. He thinks Barillo and his gang are ruining his country and has vowed to arrest and convict them all, even though many people in the country *like* Barillo or are at least dependent on him for employment. He's going to do this big press conference thing at this big colorful festival and make a big speech about eradicating the Cartel. Even after he hears about the plot by Marquez to assassinate him and take power, he decides tio give the speech anyway. Like I said, a nice guy.

The President's Assistant (Julio Oscar Mechoso) - Seriously, one of the greatest characters in this film. This little pipsqueak of a guy who follows the President around and makes sure that everything is perfect and that the President gets whatever he wants. Sands calls him, "The man behind the Prince". He worries that the President's strong anti-drug policy will not get him elected next time around, but can't get the President to change his policy. So, maybe it's better if someone else is President? He gives Agent Sands all of the information on where the President will give his speech so that it can be passed on to all of the players so that everyone can assassinate someone by the end of this film... then promptly throws up. He is this quiet little guy behind the scenes that is just as much a puppet master as Sands... only he can't stomach all of the betrayals.

Buy The don't look now DVD

Mariachi Lorenzo (Enrique Iglesias) - "L" comes to his two pals, who were played by different actors in the second film... and one of the Mariachi guys in the second film was the lead Mariachi in the first film... just to add to any confusion. Anyway, "L" comes to get some help in the multiple assassination thing, and his two buddies try to talk him out of it and then want to come along and give their support and be loyal sidekicks. Mariachi Lorenzo is a complete mercenary who will kill anyone for money. If there's money involved, he's in. Because he's all about the money, "L" isn't sure he can trust him or depend on him... even though they are best friends and have this long history that I forgot to write down notes on.

Mariachi Fideo (Marco Leonardi) - A drunk who "L" isn't sure he can trust or depend on... even though they are best friends and have this long history that I forgot to write down notes on... but I did write this line of dialogue from him, "I don't think, I drink."

The Doctor (Miguel Couturier) - Hey, remember how Barillo was going to get one of those face swap operations to that he could sneak away while some other dude gets either caught or killed? Well, this is the doctor who specializes in that stuff when he's not doing back alley abortions or removing bullets from bank robbers. He probably also has some nice story that becomes a subplot and motivates him to do this crazy operation... but I was tired by this point and just jotted down that he was the doctor who did the operation. I think he also gets killed, but I don't remember.

Buy The desp/el marDVD

Belasco (Bernard Hacker) - The duplicate. He's the guy who looks kinda like Barillo, and his name also starts with a B, making this even more confusing. Anyway, he's been in all of the Barillio scenes along the way, learning to act like Barillo and talk like him and move like him and play the piano like him and everything else. Again, he's been in all of those scenes, so I know he has some story and subplot, but I just jotted down "Duplicate guy" in my notes.

The Boy (Tony Valdes) - Okay, there is always a kid in every Mariachi movie. This time around, the kid is Agent Sands' sidekick, and is in a huge chunk of the movie. Not another lead, but a sidekick. He sells Chicklets gum and wants a friend, and Sands ends up being that friend. When everything goes wrong in Sands' various plans and people are shooting each other in the street and sands gets his eyes blown out and becomes a Blind Gunman, like those Blind Swordsmen and Blind Gunmen in other movies, he can't see in the middle of the big shoot out, and the Boy ends up being his eyes and helping him aim at the bad guys. Without this kid, Sands would be helpless! So even though he is only a sidekick in the film, he's a really important character and gets a bunch of screen time and is a critical part of the big shoot out and... well, he's really close to being another lead character!

102 DIVIDED BY 17 = 6

Buy The el mariachi DVD

That's 17 *main* characters! And (unfortunately) about 17 subplots, but no real plot. Who is the hero? It can't be Antonio - he disappears for large chunks of the movie. It can't be Depp - we don't care about him and don't really know what his plan is (it's so damned confusing) and we have no reason to want him to achieve his goal. There are just too many lead characters! And guess what? I left out at least a quarter of the subplots, and never got to all of the double and triple and quadruple and quintuple crosses at the end! Oh, and there are *supporting* characters in all of this, too - Agent Sands has a regular Taxi driver who takes him around town. Agent Ajendrez has two guys she works with at the FBI and both have the hots for her, so there's this whole love triangle subplot I forgot to mention (sorry) that actually is part of her plot. Barillo has a problem with second in command guys and goes through a bunch of them... Oh, and there's a bunch of other subplots I forgot. IMDB lists 37 speaking roles!

102 divided by 37 = 2 minutes and 45 seconds per character!

A good film has a story we can understand - usually about someone wants something, but has to fight to get it. That's a basic story. Rocky wants to go ten rounds with the Champ. Dirk Diggler wants to be loved (he gets a lot of sex, but what he really wants is non-sexual love, like from a family). When you look at a good film, it takes a simple story and explores it. Really digs in. Instead of going wide (subplots) it goes deep. Characters have to make tough decisions in order to get what they want, they have to make sacrifices. They have to confront their own demons. The fight for what they want is how we learn about their characters.

Divide 17 into the running time of the film and you get an idea of how much time we spend with each character... not enough time to get very deep at all! Add to that the confusion created when each character seems to have their own plot, and many of the characters get back stories and some get flashbacks, and none of them are who they seem - so it's almost as if there are 34 characters: the characters as they present themselves plus the characters behind that false front who have some sort of scheme. Agent Sands (Depp) is almost a different character to each person he encounters! This would have been a fascinating character if we only had enough time to hang out with him - instead he comes off very confusing. You'd have to see the film a dozen times or more to get past the barrage of characters and plots and drink in all of Sands' character.

Which is oddly what happened, as a result of so many false starts writing this script tip! I dashed off a rough version of this tip right after seeing the movie... but when it came time to expand it many years ago, I could not remember enough about the very confusing film, so I rented it and saw it again... then I got sidetracked, and when I sat down to write the time a while later the film had reverted to a jumble of characters and subplots in my memory! When the DVD came on sale, I bought it... and have watched that DVD about a dozen times over the years, starting to write this tip but getting sidetracked. Over those dozen times, I've grown fond of the film - even though it has so much going on in it I can never keep all of the subplots and characters straight in my head a few days after seeing it! Too many characters, each with their own separate plot and their own scheme and their own double crosses... how can you be expected to keep track off all of this stuff?


Buy The quigley DVD

My friend John Hill (QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER) says that "Screenplays are simple stories about complicated people". You don't want a story so complicated that the audience needs to take notes, and you don't want so many characters that the audience needs flash cards or something to keep track of them all. You want to dig deeper into character instead of going wider. It's the quality of the character and the depth of the character that is important, not the quantity of characters. A script like ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO or the one I read with 30 speaking roles fighting for their place in the spotlight are *not* better than a script where we spend more time and learn more about a handful of people.

The key to condensing your cast is to take each character and ask yourself: "Why is this character important? What is their function?" Those Waiters and Cab Drivers will instantly disappear. Other characters may be tricky. One of the 30 speaking role in my friend's script was "necessary" because she gave the protagonist a critical piece of information. My question: why didn't the protagonist discover this bit of information on his own? Not only does this lower the cast count, it boosts the protagonist's involvement in the story.

Which is a bizarre side effect of limiting your cast: Every character HAS to be critical to the story. If there's a way to tell the story without that character, delete them! When I write a script for a cable network where I will be limited (by budget) to 15 speaking roles, I take a ruled 5x8 card (15 lines) and jot down my speaking characters. When I run out of lines, I have to either remove a character from the card or reuse a character. That way, I make sure that EVERY character is part of the story... not just a dead end role. And the great side effect of this is that I have to bring characters back - I have to make sure that character on page 17 isn't just some walk on who does his job and we never see him again, that character must be critical to the story... and come back. All of the characters must be part of the story... not just some background character, some extra, that I gave a line to.

Are all of your characters part of the story? If you can remove any character and it doesn't change the outcome of the story - get rid of them! They are wasting valuable screen time that would be better used by your protagonist or some other important character.

An expanded version of this Script Tip appears as a chapter in the SUPPORTING CHARACTERS Blue Book!


Want To Look Like An Expert?



Does this gun fire 6 shots or only 5? In all of the excitement of writing your action scene, you might not have done the research... and your hero could be out of ammo! Whether you are writing a novel or screenplay, you can save your hero, and your story, by doing a little research first! This book looks at Why you should research, Whether you should research First or Later, PLUS the importance of World Building in Science Fiction, Fantasy... and the worlds you explore in every other genre. Movies like JOHN WICK and THE GODFATHER take place in their own unique worlds... and writers must create them! YOU are the technical advisor on your Screenplay or Novel.

Using movie examples like TOP GUN, HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, BLUE CRUSH, ADVENTURE LAND, several of my produced films, JOHN WICK, the novels of Donald E. Westlake and Thomas B. Dewey, SPY KIDS, the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, SOYLENT GREEN (which takes place in the far off future of 2022), and many others we will look at researching stories and creating worlds. The 8 Types Of Research, the 10 Types Of Information To Look For, 12 Important Elements Of World Building. Plus chapters on How To Rob A Bank and Commit Murder And Get Away With It for those of you interested in crime fiction, and Researching The Future for those writing science fiction, and Levels Of Reality if you are writing about a version of the real world.

No matter what you are writing, this book will help you find the facts... or make them up in a convincing way!

Only $4.99

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!


All About Rewrites!



Rewriting In Waves?

When You Finish Your Screenplay Or Novel...
The Rewrites Begin!

The end is just the beginning! You’ve finished your story, but now the rewriting begins! This 405 page book shows you how to rewrite your screenplay or novel to perfection. Everything from Character Consistency to Shoeboxing to How To Give And Receive Notes to 15 Solutions If Your Script’s Too Long! and 15 Solutions If Your Script’s Too Short! to Finding The Cause Of A Story Problem to Good Notes Vs. Bad Notes to Finding Beta Readers to Avoiding Predictability to Learning To Be Objective About Your Work to Script Killer Notes and Notes From Idiots to Production Rewrites and What The Page Colors Mean? and a Complete Rewrite Checklist! The complete book on Rewriting Your Story!

Only $4.99


All About Endings!



The Perfect Ending For Your Story!

The First Ten Pages Of Your Screenplay Are Critical,
But What About The Last 10 Pages?

Creating the perfect ending to your story! This 100,000 word book shows you how to end your story with a bang, rather than a whimper. Everything from Resolution Order to Act Three Tools to Happy or Sad Endings? to How The Beginning Of Your Story Has Clues To The Ending (in case you were having trouble figuring out how the story should end) to Falling Action to How To Avoid Bad Endings to Writing The Perfect Twist Ending to Setting Up Sequels & Series to Emotional Resolutions to How To Write Post Credit Sequences to Avoiding Deus Ex Machinas, to 20 Different Types Of Ends (and how to write them) and much more! Everything about endings for your screenplay or novel!

Only: $4.99

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!





Distilling Your Screenplay!

Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?

You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!

272 Pages - ONLY $4.99!

NEW in 2020!

Making Your Own Movie?


Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
Writing A Made For TV Holiday Movie?

You will be writing for BUDGET. On a standard spec screenplay, you don’t have to think about budget, but these types of screenplays writing with budget in mind is critical!

If you are making your own movie, budget, is even more important - and you need to think about budget *before* you write your screenplay... or you will end up with a script that you can’t afford to make (or is a struggle to make). Everyone is making their own films these days, and even if you have done it before there are lots of great techniques in this book to get more money on screen - for less money! You can make a film that looks like it cost millions for pocket change.

344 Pages - ONLY: $7.99!





Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when you can get the NEW EXPANDED VERSION - over 500 pages - for just $9.99? New chapters, New examples, New techniques!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer of MASK OF ZORRO, SHREK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and the sequels (with Terry Rossio). (ie; 4 of the top 20 Box Office Hits Of ALL TIME.)

Only $9.99 - and no postage!




"The Presidential Suite of the Hollywood Hoover Hotel looked like a bloody battlefield: bodies everywhere, furniture broken, red liquid dripping from the walls, dead soldiers littering the elegant Berber rug as clouds of smoke overhead bounced between two air conditioning vents.

Mitch Robertson stepped over the body of an ex-child star turned sex tape star turned pop star and entered the room, spotted a gun on the floor and picked it up... careful not to spill his coffee with three pumps of mocha syrup from Penny’s Coffee Shop. That coffee was gold, the only thing keeping him going in this dazed state of wakefulness. The gun felt light. Holding it, he saw the silhouette of an 80s action star sitting sideways on a tipped over chair. Motionless. Was he dead? Mitch was still hung over from the Awards Party the night before, and wondered whether this was all some sort of crazy nightmare that he would wake up from... but when he tripped over the brown legs of a bottomless Superhero, flaccid junk encased in a condom but still wearing his mask, and hit the edge of the sofa, gun skittering and coffee spilling, he realized that it was all very real. What the hell had happened here?"

Short Novel. Only 99 cents! - and no postage!

Tips FAQ

My New Script Secrets Newsletter!




*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!


Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!





Your story is like a road trip... but where are you going? What's the best route to get there? What are the best sights to see along the way? Just as you plan a vacation instead of just jump in the car and start driving, it's a good idea to plan your story. An artist does sketches before breaking out the oils, so why shouldn't a writer do the same? This Blue Book looks at various outlining methods used by professional screenwriters like Wesley Strick, Paul Schrader, John August, and others... as well as a guest chapter on novel outlines. Plus a whole section on the Thematic Method of generating scenes and characters and other elements that will be part of your outline. The three stages of writing are: Pre-writing, Writing, and Rewriting... this book looks at that first stage and how to use it to improve your screenplays and novels.

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** STRUCTURING YOUR STORY *** - For Kindle!

William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!

This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!

Your story doesn't get a second chance to make a great first impression, and this book shows you a bunch of techniques on how to do that. From the 12 Basic Ways To Begin Your Story, to the 3 Stars Of Your First Scene (at least one must be present) to World Building, Title Crawls, Backstory, Starting Late, Teasers and Pre Title Sequences, Establishing Theme & Motifs (using GODFATHER PART 2), Five Critical Elements, Setting Up The Rest Of The Story (with GODFATHER), and much more! With hundreds of examples ranging from Oscar winners to classic films like CASABLANCA to some of my produced films (because I know exactly why I wrote the scripts that way). Biggest Blue Book yet! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 100,000 words - 312 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!





Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much more. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)

Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!





Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

Only $4.99 and no postage!



*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** SCENE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)

Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is well over 200 pages!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!

Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

$4.99 - and no postage!




NEW: Updates On Films 7 & 8 Casting!

All Six Movies analyzed! All of the mission tapes, all of the “that’s impossible!” set pieces and stunts, the cons and capers - and how these scenes work, the twists and double crosses, the tension and suspense (and how to generate it), the concept of each film as a stand alone with a different director calling the shots (broken in the sixth film), the gadgets, the masks, the stories, the co-stars and team members (one team member has been in every film), the stunts Tom Cruise actually did (and the ones he didn’t), and so much more! Over 120,000 words of fun info!

THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES - 347 Pages - Only $3.99 !




NEW: Updates on TREADSTONE TV show!

All five "Bourne" movies (including "Legacy" and it's potential sequels) - what are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? Reinventing the thriller genre... or following the "formula"? Five films - each with an interesting experiment! A detailed analysis of each of the films, the way these thrillers work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR MOVIES *** - For Kindle!

He's back! The release of "Terminator: Dark Fate" is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 35 years after the first film was released. What draws us to these films about a cybernetic organism from the future sent back in time? Why is there a new proposed trilogy every few years? This book looks at all five Terminator movies from a story standpoint - what makes them work (or not)? What are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? How about those secret story details you may not have noticed? Containing a detailed analysis of each of the five films so far, this book delves into the way these stories work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

ONLY $3.99 - and no postage!



Strange Structures!



Contained Thrillers like "Buried"? Serial Protagonists like "Place Beyond The Pines"? Multiple Connecting Stories like "Pulp Fiction"? Same Story Multiple Times like "Run, Lola, Run"?

This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock's 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock's *silent* films! We'll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Only $5.99 - and no postage!



Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!

Only $5.99

The new  MP3s are available now!


NOIR & MYSTERY80 minute MP3 packed with information on writing Film Noir and Mystery scripts. Using examples from CHINATOWN to OUT OF THE PAST to DOUBLE INDEMNITY you'll learn how to create stories in this dark, twisted genre. How to plant clues, red herrings, suspects, victims, spider women, fallen heroes, the funhouse mirror world of noir supporting characters... and the origins of Film Noir in literature Noir dialogue and how noir endings are different than any other genre. All of the critical elements necessary to write in this critically popular genre.
The Noir & Mystery Class is only $15 (plus $5 S&H). First 20 on Limited Black Disk!


IDEAS AND CREATIVITY - 80 minute MP3 packed with information. Tools to find ideas that are both personal *and* commercial. Hollywood wants scripts with High Concept stories... but not stupid scripts. Developing *intelligent* high concept ideas. How to turn your personal story into a blockbuster - or find your personal story in a high concept idea. Brainstorming and being creative. Ideas and Creativity is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

WRITING INDIES - Writing an Indie film? This class covers everything you need to know - from Central Locations to Confined Cameos. Using examples from SWINGERS, THE COOLER, STATION AGENT and others, this 80 minute MP3 is packed with information. How Indoe films challenge the audience (while mainstream films reassure the audience). Structures, using BOYS DON'T CRY, RUN LOLA RUN, HILARY & JACKIE, and others as example. Writing for a budget, writing for non-actors, getting the most production value out of your budget. Writing Indies is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

WRITING HORROR - The essentials of a horror screenplay - what do ROSEMARY'S BABY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OTHERS and OPEN WATER have in common? This class will tell you! All of the critical elements necessary to write a script that scares the pants off the audience. Writing Horror is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H).

Click here for more information on CLASS MP3s!



Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2023 by William C. Martell

eXTReMe Tracker

bluebook E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there will soon be novels.

Furious Action Class

Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.

Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.


Naked Class The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON MP3! The 2001 London Class on 8 MP3s! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8 MP3s, plus a workbook, plus a bonus MP3 with PDFs.
The 2 Day Class on MP3!


A Whole Week Of Programming!
(no actual sex is involved)
From Trailer Tuesday to Film Courage Plus to THRILLER Thursday to Fridays With Hitchcock and more! My blog has all kinds of great stuff! Check it out! Lots of cool stuff every day!


Each Blue Book is 48 pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings.
Seventeen Blue Books now available!

THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The Market!


My nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines, several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
...............................BILL'S CORNER

Available Scripts


Take classes on MP3!